I gave in to the temptation tonight, took a break from writing, and decided to rest my weary head with two hours of good big screen adventure… X-Men the Last Stand.
Instead, I sat there and watched Ratner and Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn spoil the efforts of so many talented individuals, effectively spoiling the best adventure franchise running. I should have gone to M:I3 or Over the Hedge instead.
The film basically serves as a giant compliment to director Brian Singer’s abilities, by showing what happens when he’s not on board. Oh, Brian, if only you could have put Superman Returns on hold…
This matters to me because the X-franchise was an unusually good franchise. Both of the previous X-Men films surpassed my expectations. I had no history with the comics, but the films very quickly made me believe in the characters and care about them. And recently, I’ve become a fan of Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men” series, which features his signature style of smart writing.
And then this one comes along and just starts spoiling the storylines of characters that the first two films worked so hard to build. There are scenes that change the makeup of the X-Men team dramatically, scenes that should be full of emotion and drama, that end up being little more than effects spectacles.
I was worried that Bret Ratner was the wrong guy for the job, and thus I wasn’t surprised to find that his direction lacked inspiration. Some of the critics are praising Ratner’s work, but there wasn’t a single scene in this film that drew me in. Everything was far too rushed.
But the script… for crying out loud.
- Too many characters.
- One-liners that provoke groans rather than laughter.
- Characters who lose most of the humanity and dimension they had in the first two.
- Villains who, from the moment they appear onscreen, have ceased to be the slightest bit scary. (Ian McKellen didn’t have an ounce of menace in this one. He just looked silly. It’s all in how you film him.)
- And the war scenes are just noise and violence for the sake of spectacle.
This is the worst franchise collapse I’ve experienced since Alien 3. I enjoyed it more than Star Trek V (the one where God ends up chasing Kirk around a planet) and it’s much better than Catwoman. (I never saw the Superman sequels, but I’ve heard that one fell pretty hard and fast too.)
It’s really too bad. It’s a rare thrill when somebody like Brian Singer or Joss Whedon can take a world as imaginative as the X-Men world and make it compelling, funny, scary, and full of characters with interesting storylines. And it’s sad when someone comes along and lets all of the air out of the balloon.
Makes me wonder if I should stop hoping for the return of the Firefly/Serenity series. At least it came to a close without any disappontments. If the studio decided to bring it back with the wrong people at writing the script, as Universal did here, that would be far worse than abandoning the property and leaving us with the successes we’ve already enjoyed.